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Op-Ed: Trump tariffs are isolating the U.S. and hurting farmers

BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.

President Donald Trump is continuing to isolate our country from the rest of the world by placing tariffs on foreign goods. This will hurt our economy as well as foreign markets, increase our national debt and empty the pockets of American consumers who will end up paying for this mistake in the form of higher taxes and increased prices on many items they use in their daily lives.

The main target of Trump’s tariffs is China, which has surged in areas like the tech industry due to its unfair trade practices and theft of American intellectual property. However, I believe we should use a fine hand to ensure that international law is respected, and that is not one of Trump’s strengths. He is a bull in a china shop. We need a scalpel and he is bringing a shotgun.

The United States is in a bind. Trump put tariffs on a number of Chinese goods and China has fired back by taxing U.S. imports coming into its country including soybeans, rice, beef, nuts, pork, dairy, and produce. In addition, China is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, supplying many companies in the United States, which means these tariffs could end up hurting us more than them.

In addition, earlier this year, the Commander-in-Chief announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. That means Americans will be shelling out more money for products like cars, pots and pans, food containers, solar panels, washing machines and license plates – the list goes on and on.

I would not be taking on the whole world and picking a fight with our friends and allies at a time when we are facing a fight with China. We need to all be rowing in the same direction. People get confused when you take things in the direction that Trump is going and that is when they leave your team.

American farmers are already feeling the brunt of Trump’s trade wars as prices drop and their inventories pile up. The federal government is expected to give $12 billion in additional federal aid to help them stay afloat, a bailout made necessary by a self-inflicted problem. The primary countries responsible for our booming agriculture export business are mainly China, but also, Canada and Mexico.

The so-called “bailout” will include direct payments to farmers, the promotion of American goods overseas, and the growth of a program that takes surplus farm output and gives it to food banks and other anti-hunger programs. However, farm subsidy money is usually intended to protect farmers from unexpected changes in weather and crop cycles, not the fallout of a poorly conceived tariff plan.

Residents here in Southeast Queens as with many other parts of the country can’t afford to pay more money for groceries, household items, electronics and modes of transportation like cars. Trump needs to think more about working class Americans than using tariffs as a way to bully other countries into better serving our needs. I believe a collective team effort of negotiations and mutually beneficial partnerships is the best way to improve international trade.

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